Dean Ayala had some news to share this evening regarding Arena Balance and micro-adjustments to card appearance rates.
According to Dean, Tian Ding, who was the team's Lead Data Scientist prior to leaving Blizzard and joining Second Dinner, was the "father" of the micro-adjustments that happened in Arena and with him gone from the company, they aren't entirely sure how to next approach Arena balance. The adjustments were not completely automated and still required some manual intervention, which Tian was the sole provider of, a rarity on the Hearthstone team.
Dean says that there are two options they are currently looking at going forward for Arena balance:
- Keep micro-adjustments but move responsibility to dev.
- Come up with a simpler and less manual solution for balancing cards.
The second option would result in more timely balance changes and wouldn't require any schedule adjustments from the dev team. The ultimate goal of the rethinking process is to find a solution that lets Hearthstone maintain Arena balance easier and on a more predictable release schedule. Until then, we might not see many micro-adjustments.
How are you feeling about Arena balance right now? What would you change if you were given the chance? Let us know in the comments below.
Arena adjustments coming anytime soon?
The true and unfortunate story about microadjustments is that the father of microadjustments @sky_tding has moved off the team (good luck and we love you @sky_tding) and we're trying to figure out what the best path forward is now.
Because Tian was awesome, he came up with a cool math/programming based solution that required some manual effort but he was capable of doing it (microadjusts).
However, there are some downsides and abnormalities with that process. One, it's pretty rare for a feature to be maintained by someone off the dev team. His team might have other priorities and planning can be more difficult.
Two, there was some pretty complex manual effort involved that meant multiple people from different teams had to be free at a moment's notice when we wanted microadjustments to happen.
So, now, we're considering a couple options. One is to keep microadjustments as is but move the responsibility back to dev (and adjusting our schedule as a result). Another is to come up with a simpler and less manual solution that allows us to be more timely with class balance.
TL:DR we're rethinking how we do arena balance. The goal is to have a solution that is easier to maintain and has more predictable timelines. We may fall back on current microadjustments until that happens.